Frontline Stories

Truly Welcome, Bangladesh

By Jon Warren,World Vision US Photographer

What right do we have to do photography, especially of people?

Lately it seems like everyone I travel with is a photographer. If they don’t have an SLR, they have phones. Something or someone interesting? Proof that you were there? Click, click, click. Even local people are filming on their phones and, horror of horrors, they do selfies, too.

For the first time in my career, I’ve found myself putting my camera away sometimes. I need to remember why I took up a camera in the first place and my unique role as a photographer for World Vision.

If I claim to be an advocacy photographer, a loudspeaker for people who need their voice amplified, I first need to be invited into their lives. I need to hear their concerns, see what is lovely about them, and then find the right moment to share with others through my camera.

Along with some World Vision supporters, I visited youth groups in Bangladesh. These teenagers live in a society that pushes them toward early marriage and often relegates girls to a lower status. The World Vision youth clubs promote decency, tolerance and respect, and train the kids to speak boldly as leaders with goals for each other and their community.

Instead of waiting for us inside the building where they gather, the young people from one group ran out as soon as we arrived and showered us with handfuls of flower petals. I had a 24mm lens on my camera, set to aperture priority automatic so I could react quickly. I was happy to trust my camera’s meter in the soft evening light, getting off a few frames before the flowers were all gone.

Nothing is more wonderful than feeling a resounding “welcome!” when first approaching a story. The youth in these clubs wanted us to hear their stories, understand their concerns, and share their pride in their accomplishments. They wanted me to do photography because the pictures were for them.

When you do photography on behalf of others, make sure you’re first invited in. And if you keep their best interests at heart, you’ll tell the story they want to tell - with an obligation to do it well.

Sewing Hope in Rwanda

[2018/09/21] Today, an unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world have been forced from their homes due to conflicts,......

Empty Promises Turned Into New Hopes

[2018/08/23] Samnang and his family used to make a living by working on their rice fields. One day, a friend from his village......

Keeping Refugee Children Safe during the Monsoons

[2018/08/19] Children in the world’s largest refugee camp now face less risk of being lost or separated from their families d......

A Tarnished Bangle Shines Again

[2018/07/30] Misha is more mature than children of her age in the community. She looks after her mother, takes care of househ......

Kicking Gender Stereotypes Out

[2018/07/11] A group of girls at one of World Vision’s Child Friendly Spaces in South Sudan are challenging gender stereotype......

Run

[2018/06/26] There are more than half a million refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo currently being hosted in ......

Shaking off the shackles of the past

[2018/05/28] “In the bush, we spent the days carrying guns and worrying about when the enemies were coming next,” says 17-yea......

Father and Girl Sketching Hope on Life

[2018/05/21] 45-year-old Prabhakar lives with his daughter Swathi in a single-room house on the outskirts of a city in Andhra......

Honouring Mothers Around the World

[2018/05/13] Mothers play an important role in families in every corner of the world. On this Mother’s Day, let’s honour some......